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The "High Five"
The High Five
- Five-Man Band: Somewhat.
- The Hero: Parzival
- The Lancer: Aech
- The Big Guy: Daito is somewhat of a Type 1. He never joins the group in full, but does fulfill the role in the long run.
- The Smart Girl: Art3mis, especially prominent in the finale, when she knows more about "Tempest" than Wade does, and kept a real-life copy of her egg notes, considering her account had died.
- It's also telling she found the location of the Copper Key more than a month before anyone else. She also found the Jade Key before anyone else.
- The Heart: Shoto, oddly considering his Red Oni status to Daito.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Following Daito's death.
- Sanguine: Aech
- Choleric: Parzival
- Leukine: Shoto, though with some elements of Sanguine as well.
- Melancholic: Art3mis, to a degree.
- Kid Heroes: They're all, at maximum, about twenty.
- Meaningful Name: With the exception of Aech. Art3mis and Parzival are both named after famous hunters (The God of the Hunt and the knight who found the Holy Grail), while Shoto and Daito are named after the pair of swords a samurai wears.
Parzival/Wade Owen Watts
Parzival (Wade Owen Watts)
Portrayed by: Tye SheridanThe protagonist of the novel, Wade Watts is a kid in the slums of Oklahoma City who becomes the first person to find the Copper Key, starting the true hunt five years after it began.
- Alliterative Name: His mother told him his father, a comic book geek, named him thus because he thought it sounded like a Super Hero Secret Identity.
- Badass Bookworm: Like any prominent gunter. However, he doesn't actually work into this role until after he obtains the Copper Key.
- Took a Level in Badass: From a level three user who can't even get off of the school planet of Ludus to a level ninety-nine gunter who is celebrated the world over. Also in the real world. After Art3mis breaks up with him, he throws himself into the hunt, shaves his head, drops his fat, and starts constructing an elaborate Batman Gambit to expose IOI.
- Classical Anti Hero: Wade spends much of the story as an unsure underdog and has a lot of angst about interacting with others and his budding love life.
- Conveniently an Orphan: He is orphaned at the beginning of the story and later his aunt and her boyfriend are killed. This removes his tethers to any one location.
- The Cracker: He is, without too much difficulty, able to hack the US government's databases to create a new identity for himself after his remaining family is killed, and then hack it again to resume it once his new identity is burned. He also hacks IOI's most secure system from what amounts to an IPad mounted in the wall of a sleeping tube. He does this fairly conventionally though, buying codes and backdoor exploits on black market sites rather than working from scratch.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: A landmark example; most would think they were both pretty bad, but he still remembers them fondly for giving him the things in his life he cherishes.
- His father died when was just a few months old; shot dead while looting a grocery store during a power blackout. He still thinks fondly of him because his mother said he deliberately gave him a superhero's Alliterative Name and left behind flash drives with complete runs of comics.
- His mother was a VR prostitute and drug addict who died from bad drugs when he was eleven; he was the one who found her body with the needle sticking out of her arm. He still thinks fondly of her as the person who gave him his first OASIS console, despite her declared intent that it was a "virtual babysitter" so she could ignore him while she turned tricks and shot up. OTOH, Wade has fond memories of logging onto the OASIS together to play games and go on interactive storybook adventures. She was an absolute mess, but it seems like she at least tried to be a good mother.
- In comparison, his aunt is a drug addict who steals his food vouchers and trades them for drugs. He has to feed and clothe himself by scavenging and repairing electronics to trade or sell - and every time she finds the stuff he's repaired, she sics her current boyfriend on him to steal it and buy more drugs. He's more depressed about pretty much everyone else who died because of Sorrento's bomb than her.
- Dogged Nice Guy: After Art3mis breaks off contact with him, Wade tries to win her over for weeks through grand gestures, spamming her with gifts, and reliving classic movie Dogged Nice Guy acts. It would likely fall under Stalker with a Crush (Wade even refers to himself as cyberstalking her) if she didn't eventually reciprocate.
- Guile Hero: As shown by his Batman Gambit to open the shield over the Crystal Gate.
- Had To Be Sharp: He's your basic MacGyver — an ace scavenger, electrician, programmer — because his aunt steals his food vouchers and trades them for drugs, forcing him to feed and clothe himself by scrounging and repairing electronics to sell or trade. It's also made him really sneaky because the damned junkie steals that stuff too — if she catches him with it. If.
- Hero Protagonist: He is a good guy, the main character and the narrator, to boot.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Wade suffers this as Art3mis breaks up with him, he loses touch with Aech and, worst of all, the head of IOI clears the second gate and finds the third key before him.
- Hikikomori: He lived a secluded life before he found the Copper Key but he became even more so during his time at Columbus.
- Homeless Hero: His home was destroyed but he fortunately had just started making money so he could move to a different city.
- Humongous Mecha: For clearing the Jade Gate, he gets a copy of Leopardon that he can pilot.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: The mech's ultimate fate.
- Magic Knight: His avatar is a highly skilled wizard and warrior.
- One-Letter Name: A variant, in that Aech calls him "Z".
- Parental Abandonment: Yeah. His father was killed while looting when he was a few months old, his mother died of bad drugs when he was eleven - and she had already given him his first OASIS console as a "virtual babysitter."
- Physical God: After obtaining the Egg, he becomes even more powerful than Og, due to Halliday giving him Anorak's powers and the kill switch of the entire OASIS.
- Rebel Leader: By the finale. Emphasized with how all of the gunters are chanting his name as he flies in to start the battle.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Why he declines Sorrento's offer for money in exchange for helping him.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Wade has few qualms about breaking real world laws in order to stop IOI from violating the spirit of the contest after IOI murdered his aunt and her boyfriend in an attempt to kill him.
Aech (Helen Harris)
Portrayed by: Lena WaitheWade's best friend in the OASIS, he starts as a professional arena fighter who also works as a gunter. "He" is really a she, the African American, lesbian Helen Harris.
- Abusive Parents: Her mother disowned her and forced her out of their house for being a lesbian.
- Alliterative Name: The source of the account name. Both first and last name start with H.
- Badass Bookworm: Like any prominent gunter but Aech was a notable arena fighter even before Wade finds the Copper Key.
- Black and Nerdy: Though to be fair, every other gunter is just as nerdy.
- Black Best Friend: To Wade, but her avatar is a white male.
- Butch Lesbian: To the degree that most people don't even know she's a girl until they meet her face to face. Wade isn't even surprised, since they talked about girls a few times.
- Gamer Chick: Is actually this in real life.
- G.I.R.L.: Inverted since it's a female playing a male avatar.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Parzival. Actually a case of Platonic Life-Partners.
- Humongous Mecha: For clearing the Jade Gate, she gets a copy of Gundam RX-78 that she can pilot.
- One-Letter Name: The avatar name, likely because a straight One-Letter Name wouldn't be usable on the OASIS, or because "H" was taken.
- Samus Is a Girl: Aech presents as male in OASIS and is known as a professional competitor and not just in egg hunting. Meeting face-to-face is when Wade finally realizes Aech is a woman. They share a moment of Stunned Silence before everything just "clicks" as his mind adjusts to this revelation and they laugh together.
- Sassy Black Woman: She's definitely sassy, but the fact that she's also black and female is not revealed until the end of the book.
- The Gunslinger: It's noted that his specialty is the First-Person Shooter genre. He makes his living winning the prize in weekly deathmatches.
- Twofer Token Minority: Threefer, actually. She's African American, female, and homosexual.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Her friendship with Parzival is genuine but highly competitive.
Art3mis (Samantha Evelyn Cook)
Portrayed by: Olivia CookeA female gunter who Wade has a geek crush on. They start dating somewhat as the contest goes on, but break it off after a while for the duration of the contest.
- Action Girl: She is very formidable in the OASIS and is much higher level than Parzival when they first encounter each other.
- Badass Bookworm: Like any prominent gunter but she is also bright enough to keep a physical copy of her notes.
- Freakiness Shame: She genuinely believes that her port wine stain on her face is completely and utterly revolting and enough to drive anyone away from her. It doesn't deter Wade in the slightest and in fact he seems to find her more attractive for it.
- Gamer Chick: This is a requirement for any female gunter and has a lot of knowledge of arcade games.
- Girls with Guns: She is a notable gunslinger in the OASIS but isn't shy from swords, either.
- Humongous Mecha: For clearing the Jade Gate, she gets a copy of Minerva X that she can pilot.
- Leet Speak: Since straight up "Artemis" was taken.
- Love Interest: She is this to Parzival to varying degrees throughout the story.
- Magic Knight: The first prominent one Wade interacts with in the OASIS.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Well really, "you are not my boyfriend." At one point in the novel, she tells Parzival that she doesn't want to see him for a while unless it's related to the hunt. When he asks if she's breaking up with him, she tells him no, because they weren't really together.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted. Art3mis flies off the handle at Wade when she learns that he lied about having beaten the Ancient Tomb Lich and thereby obtaining The Copper Key, but she's not really as angry about his dishonesty as she is about the fact that he beat the Lich on the first try when she had been trying for five weeks. She later apologizes for blowing up and acknowledges that he was only doing what any Gunter in his place would have done.
Daito (Toshiro Yoshiaki)
Portrayed by: Win MorisakiShoto's "older brother" in the OASIS, he's rather brash and irritable. He is murdered by IOI when they throw him off a balcony in his home while he is protecting Shoto as he goes for the Jade Gate.
- Asian and Nerdy: Though this is not an unusual level of nerdiness for gunters.
- Badass Bookworm: Like any prominent gunter but his fluency in Japanese helps Parzival complete a challenging quest chain which awards Daito the Beta Capsule
- Bash Brothers: Daito and Shoto are rarely seen apart and they fight many battles together.
- Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: He dies protecting Shoto as he goes for the Jade Gate - both in-game which was likely to happen anyway and in real life as IOI agents came to his house and physically threw him off a balcony.
- Character Death: He's one of the few characters actually killed in real life.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Gender flipped. Goes from full on Hero Harasses Helpers to leaving his Ultraman capsule to Wade in his will after Wade helps him and Shoto on a mission.
- Destination Defenestration: He is thrown from his apartment real life.
- Fire-Forged Friends: He is initially very cold to Parzival but eventually leaves the beta capsule to Wade in his will.
- Good Is Not Nice: Especially evident in the only meeting of the full High Five.
- Hero Harasses Helpers: He says that he and Shoto work by themselves, despite Shoto's protests.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Though he had no way of knowing that it would also be a real life one.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He is this with Shoto though he refuses to meet Shoto in real life.
- Hikikomori: His obituary states that he lived his life as a shut-in.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue Oni to Shoto's Red.
- Sacrificial Lion: His death shows that Sorrento has no limits.
- Samurai: His avatar is styled after this.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Though they aren't blood siblings, he's this with Shoto.
- Squad Nickname: "Daisho" with Shoto due to their samurai outfits and sword-based handles.
Shoto (Akihide Karatsu)
Portrayed by: Philip ZhaoDaito's "little brother" in the OASIS, he serves as a voice of reason. Following Daito's murder, he stops caring about getting the Egg and aims for revenge instead.
- Asian and Nerdy: Though this is not unusual for gunters.
- Badass Bookworm: Like any prominent gunter. Specifically he is seen being able to clear the Zork level in a matter of moments due to his rote memorization of the puzzle.
- Bash Brothers: With Daito as they take on entire armies together.
- Cool Sword: Following Daito's death, Parzival gives him a +5 Vorpal Blade Masamune.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Though in his case, it's not fatal in real life. He fights Mechagodzilla in Raideen to have revenge and give his friends an opportunity to open and enter the Crystal Gate. The mech and his avatar are destroyed by Mechagodzilla's Wave Motion Gun.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Daito and Shoto are partners in everything though Daito refuses to meet him in real life.
- Hikikomori: Even such that he, like the other High Five, do not meet Parzival in person before the quest for the egg is complete even when they enter the OASIS right next to each other in real life.
- Humongous Mecha: For clearing the Jade Gate, he gets a copy of Raideen that he can pilot.
- Nice Guy: He wants to make friends much more quickly with Parzival than Daito does.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red Oni to Daito's Blue but he is the one that wants to become friends with the others in comparison to Daito.
- Revenge: His goal after Daito's death.
- Samurai: His avatar is styled after a samurai, just like Daito.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Though they aren't blood siblings, he's this with Daito.
- Squad Nickname: "Daisho" with Daito due to their paired samurai aesthetic and sword-based handles.
Nolan Sorrento (IOI-#655321)
Portrayed by: Ben MendelsohnHead of Operations at the Oology Division of Innovative Online Industries, Sorrento hopes to gain the Egg so that IOI can take control of the OASIS, putting charges on using the simulation at all.
- Affably Evil: At least to Parzival when he interviews him. He seems genuinely disappointed that Wade chose to let his aunt and her boyfriend die rather than help IOI.
- Big Bad: Though his superiors are the Greater-Scope Villain.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's not corrupt because he steals from the company but it's because he's willing to commit murder against the contestants without regard to collateral damage to win the contest.
- Evil Laugh: Once he destroys Leopardon.
- Final Boss: In the battle near the end. Aech even lampshades it, given the OASIS is basically an MMO game.
- Karma Houdini: The book's climax suggest that he may get away with his many wrongdoings due to lack of solid evidence and very good corporate lawyers. (Although Wade points out that after winning the contest he can now hire the latter as well.) In any case, he sure expects this to be the case.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He is revealed to be the titular character of the Andy Weir short story Lacero. Lacero can be translated from Latin as "I rip", indicating Sorrento's intentions for the OASIS if he gets the Egg.
- Scaled Up: A variant. In the finale, Sorrento pilots Mechagodzilla against the gunters.
- Humongous Mecha: Dwarfing any of the other Humongous Mecha.
- Mighty Glacier: Mechagodzilla is Nigh Invulnerable and obscenely strong, but it's very slow.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Nothing seems to be able to damage him in his Mechagodzilla vehicle... except for a beam fired by Art3mis' Minerva X and Ultraman.
- Wave Motion Gun: Mechagodzilla's Breath Weapon is strong enough to tear a Humongous Mecha in half when it's still powering down.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Since Halliday didn't set down rules, he feels free to cheat. This is common of all of IOI.
- The Unfettered: He's willing to murder people to win the contest. Even gunters find this beyond extreme.
- We Have Reserves: Starts to kill his own men in Mechagodzilla in the finale. It doesn't matter much to him, since they're using hacked rigs, meaning each person can just find a new avatar.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shown in the now-canon short story Lacero written by Andy Weir, Sorrento entered IOI to find the Egg and destroy the OASIS, which he believes indirectly caused the world's current state and directly the cause of his sister's death, who became so addicted to the game that she resorted to taking meth to search for the Egg, ultimately dying of an overdose. That doing so would annihilate all of humanity's economy, communications and collective knowledge is just a price he's willing to pay for his revenge.Techie: OASIS does tons of good for people. Their schools are the best primary educational system in the world, and they’re free.
Sorrento: Yeah whatever. A few PR stunts doesn’t absolve GSS of their sins. You know what they are? Drug dealers. They sell is escapism and the whole world is addicted. And it’s every bit as destructive as heroin. A few schools won’t wash the blood off their hands.
Ogden "Og" Morrow (The Great And Powerful Og)
Portrayed by: Simon PeggCo-creator of the OASIS and close friend of Halliday, he left Gregarious Simulation Systems some years prior to Halliday's death due to his belief that it was becoming a Lotus-Eater Machine. Halliday entrusted him with keeping the contest for the Egg cheating-free and he helps the High Five's remaining members in the finale by giving them a safe real-life place to log into the OASIS.
- Big Good: By the finale he serves as protector for the remaining High Five and is the biggest advocate against the IOI.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Do not crash his OASIS party and start a fight. He has Superuser rights since he helped create it.
- In the real world, he is obscenely rich, and is able to quickly spirit the kids away to safety when he learns IOI intends to have them killed off, using a fleet of limousines and private jets when most people can't even afford bus fare. This ends up facilitating IOI's defeat in the final battle.
- Cool Old Guy: He's in his seventies and still acts like he's a teenager at heart.
- The Mourning After: He never remarries after Kira dies.
- One of the Kids: He acts like any gunter, even calling out IOI on live television and laughing about it.
- Physical God: He has powers in the OASIS unobtainable by anyone else. (Until Parzival wins the contest.)
- Passing the Torch: Halliday entrusted him with acting as the "referee" of the egg hunt, asking him to step in if anyone betrayed the core of the contest; finding a successor who loved the OASIS as much as he did.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Ogden's avatar can do pretty much whatever he wants, including snoop on private chat rooms. An unusual benevolent example, as Ogden is using his powers to keep an eye on the High Five so he can help them out if they need it.
James Donovan Halliday (Anorak)
Portrayed by: Mark RylanceCreator of the OASIS and starter of the hunt for the Egg, Halliday was a computer programming genius prior to his death. An Eccentric Millionaire, he's modeled after Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott.
- Ambiguous Disorder: It is speculated in-universe that he had Asperger's Syndrome, but this remains speculation rather than a formal diagnosis.
- Bad Boss: It's offhandedly mentioned that he would often fire employees on the spot for not knowing obscure 80's pop-culture trivia. Ogden Morrow would always discreetly re-hire them.
- Celibate Eccentric Genius: Though he was in love with Kira.
- Creator Backlash: Implied In-Universe, as he posthumously advises Wade that "Reality is Real" and gives him the means to annihilate the OASIS.
- Eccentric Millionaire: Very much so. It's speculated postmortem that he had a form of Asperger's Syndrome.
- Expy: The author compares Halliday to Bill Gates, based on Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott. The film explicitly compares him to Steve Jobs. There is a 'lot of Willy Wonka in him as well; from his eccentricity and obsession with making dreams reality and especially the egg hunt itself, which he entrusted Ogden with ensuring that the new controller of the OASIS would love it as much as he did — though he also warns Wade that as amazing as the OASIS is, he has to live in the real world or miss out on the greatest pleasures.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Why he stopped talking to Ogden until just before his death; he had a crush on Kira, and was broken when she married Og without ever realizing James wanted her. Notably, Og was sympathetic, knowing James' asociality.
- Lonely at the Top: As he admits to Parzival.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: His death began the hunt for the Egg.
- Passing the Torch: The entire point of the Egg.
- Physical God: His avatar in the OASIS was one.
- Posthumous Character. The book begins five years after his death.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Even more so than Ogden's avatar. His office holds the kill switch to the OASIS itself, meaning he could end the simulation permanently at any time. He gives this power to Parzival for getting the Egg.
- Virtual Ghost: Subtly hinted at. Halliday is gone but his influence is still felt very strongly in the OASIS. Wade even talks to a very advanced AI version of Halliday's avatar after obtaining the egg.
Portrayed by: Susan LynchThe sister of Wade's deceased mother. She lives with her current boyfriend, Rick, and regularly pawns off Wade's possessions to pay for rent for the three of them.
- Asshole Victim: Deconstructed Character Archetype for her and her boyfriend. Even though they were jerks, Wade doesn't think they deserved to die.
- Character Death: She and her boyfriend are killed when a bomb under the trailer they live in blows up when Sorrento tries to kill Wade for rejecting his proposal.
- Jerkass: Her only scene involves selling Wade's possessions and yelling at him.
- Nephewism: Ironic, considering Wade's Alliterative Name and his father's love of comic books already make him sound like a character out of the Marvel Universe.
Karen "Kira" UnderwoodOgden's late wife. Halliday's unspoken love for her and jealousy of Og was the reason why they did not speak for a decade prior to his death.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: She changed her name to make it cooler to herself and her peers.
- Gamer Chick: "The quintessential geek girl." She even changed her name to Kira after seeing The Dark Crystal.
- Happily Married: With Ogden before she died.
- Posthumous Character: She died well before the events of the book and before Halliday died to kick off the plot.
I-RokA minor Gunter that Aech lets into his chat room, because he's fun to mock.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He insults Parzival for having a low level avatar and makes a big show of finding out about the game Earthworld... at which point Parzival and Aech both make it clear how much more they know than he does.
- Spear Carrier: It's implied that his posts on gunter forums boasting about Parzival and Aech eventually lead the Sixers to Ludus, thus giving them their first big break towards getting the Egg.